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Cablegate: Goss Minister for Presidential Affairs Deng On Abyei And

VZCZCXRO2778
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0943/01 1771244
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 251244Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1158
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000943

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, DRL
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: GOSS MINISTER FOR PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS DENG ON ABYEI AND
THE ELECTIONS

REF: KHARTOUM 941

1. (SBU) Summary: GOSS Minister for Presidential Affairs discussed
Abyei and elections the afternoon of June 24. While recognizing the
risks of arbitration as called for in the new Abyei roadmap signed
on June 8, the SPLM sees it as the only way to bring pressure on the
NCP to agree on a final Abyei border. The election law, the
Minister assured the CG, would be agreed to in the next day or two
when Vice President Kiir holds talks in Khartoum on Wednesday or
Thursday (June 25-26) of this week. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Deng began the meeting by asking the CG if the American
government backed the new Abyei roadmap signed by the NCP and the
SPLM on June 8. He appeared to be surprisingly anxious on this
subject, apparently fearful that the USG might think that the SPLM
had made a mistake in entering into the accord. The CG assured the
Minister that the USG did, indeed, consider the agreement a positive
step forward. CG observed that the oil wealth sharing provisions of
the accord showed movement by the NCP, and that the interim
boundaries agreed to by the SPLM also showed some flexibility in
dealing with this difficult issue. The US remains concerned about
the implementation of many other aspects of the agreement, such as
the appointment of an Administrator for Abyei and the expeditious
withdrawal of SPLA and SAF forces from the region.

3. (SBU) Deng seemed relieved to hear the CG's reassurances on US
support for the road map, acknowledged the problems that still lay
ahead in implementing it, and indicated the SPLM felt it had no
choice in the matter but to go to arbitration. "The NCP," he said,
"refuses to talk to us. We have offered them an oil for land deal,
and that approach has not worked." He understood, he said, that the
arbitration panel might rule against the ABC Report. The SPLM, he
said, was willing to risk that for two reasons. First, if they won,
even if the NCP refused to implement the arbitration decision, it
would put new international pressure on them to negotiate seriously
on the Abyei border and would strengthen the SPLM hand in those
talks. If the ruling went against the ABC Report, then at least the
panel would set the border. Even if the new borders were not as
favorable as the ABC ones, the question could finally be settled and
the parties could move on.

4. (SBU) During the conversation Deng received a phone call that
visibly upset him. He stepped out of the room and when he returned
he explained that he had just been informed that the NCP was moving
its own police force into Abyei without GOSS concurrence, in
violation of the roadmap agreement, and he had just called his
contacts in the NCP to warn them not to proceed (reftel). If they
did, the GOSS would also move its own police into Abyei, which was
sure to provoke a fight. He indicated that "our old friend Haroun"
the ICC indicted war criminal, was behind this move. Deng was
confident, however, that he had been able to block the move.

5. (SBU) When asked about progress on appointing an administrator
for Abyei, Deng indicated that a name had been agreed upon in the
SPLM that VP Kiir would take to Khartoum. Deng declined to reveal
the name, but indicated he was confident that it would be acceptable
to Bashir (reftel).

6. (SBU) CG reminded Deng of his request to have a State Department
lawyer come to Juba to advise them on the arbitration process. Deng
reaffirmed that they wanted the help, but also indicated that they
were interested in our view of the American law firm, Public
International Law and Policy Group (PILPG). They were considering
engaging the firm to represent the SPLM in the arbitration process,
and very much wanted our opinion of their credibility and
reputation. The CG said he would pass this request on to the
Department.

7. (SBU) On elections, Deng said that negotiations were continuing,
and that FVP Kiir would be carrying a proposal with him to Khartoum
to present to Bashir. He expected an announcement on the law by
them no later than Thursday, but he declined to go into details at
this time about the nature of the SPLM proposal. (Note: As reported
septel, SPLM Northern Sector Deputy SG Yasir Arman and NCP
negotiator and parliamentarian Dirdeiry Mohammed confirmed to poloff
June 24 that the two sides have reached a deal on the elections law,
with the NCP conceding to state-level lists and the SPLM conceding
to a 60-40 mixed voting system. End note.)

8. (SBU) Comment: The SPLM appears to be aware of the risks it is
taking by going into arbitration over Abyei, but seems willing to
take them in order to either put new international pressure on the
NCP to reach a full settlement, or to have the panel set the borders
and be done with the issue. Deng did not preclude continuing to
work on a political agreement in parallel with the arbitration
process, but was pessimistic the NCP would agree to more talks

KHARTOUM 00000943 002 OF 002


unless it became apparent to them they were going to lose in
arbitration. This is quite possibly posturing on his part, since
the NCP has indicated a willingness to the embassy in the past to
resume talks on the border, and if it can confirm such an interest,
it may be possible to get the two sides into discussions again.
Deng said the SPLM would welcome the return of Special Envoy
Williamson to help with border negotiations, should they restart.
Without a doubt, the SPLM is eager to put the Abyei issue behind it,
and is eager to maneuver the NCP into an end game to resolve the
crisis one way or another. This is very positive because as we saw
last month, fighting can erupt in Abyei at any time, especially
given that SAF forces still have not withdrawn, and SPLA forces are
no more than a stone's throw to the South.

FERNANDEZ

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